During the 18th Century, Britain was very much heralded as being the worlds’ most commercial nation. It was a time when manufacturers, investors and capitalists, enjoyed unprecedented wealth. By the 1900’s, with the need to increase productivity, several academics carried out research studies of industrialised work environments, to better understand how to get more from employees.
In the 1930’s the Hawthorne studies identified the relationship between how employers treat employees, and productivity. This early research, forms the foundations for many work practices and philosophies, for managing and engaging with today’s workforce. Giving rise to the well-known saying, “A happy workplace is a productive workplace”.
It’s a thin line
For some entrepreneurs the need to employ staff occurs almost accidentally, or unexpectedly. Where having exceeded sales expectations, they suddenly find themselves in the position of needing an extra, or several extra, pairs of hands, to cope with demand.
Having a small team often means that in the early days at least, employers enjoy a very close working relationship with their team. However, after a while of working in a close-knit environment, the friendly work atmosphere they create, can get confused with over friendliness. Where the kindness of a new employer, gets taken for granted, and key team members become overzealous, complacent, unreliable and in some cases downright rude towards their employers and / or customers!
This in turn can create a feeling of despondency, or helplessness, where those new to employing staff, do not know where to turn, or how best to address the situation. Often fearful of upsetting the proverbial apple cart, and losing what, to them, has become a valued resource, even if a little quirky or eccentric at times.
Of course, this is totally the wrong approach, and something that anyone thinking of employing staff for the first time should be wary of.
Weighing things up
In contrast, taking too stern an approach with employees can create the wrong impression, and an unhappy environment. Leading to inefficiency and high staff turnover, as employees habitually head for the hills, in a fervent quest to escape to pastures greener.
The key to greater productivity and happy work environment, lies in finding the right balance. Creating and maintaining a happy workforce while displaying complete professionalism at all times. Where employers are at ease with keeping their team informed about the direction they are heading for, and why. Giving praise where it is due, and putting in place key performance indicators, in order to measure performance, and keep things ticking over as they should.
A good employer should also be able to listen their team, and have an open-door policy. Where team members can feel confident about putting forward suggestions for how things can improve.
Equally, they also need to be good listeners, prepared to handle some of the not so nice feedback they may get from time to time, in order to make positive progress. The attitude of your workforce can make all the difference in whether your business is a success or failure.
Before employing staff, every new employer will need to be aware of the legal and financial implications of doing so. Employers also need to be aware of employment law and how best to create policies and procedures that affect the day to day work environment.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) provides free employment law support and guidance for new and established businesses in the United Kingdom. Including specialist advice, templates and training.
If you are thinking of employing staff for the first time, firstly make sure that you can afford to do so and on what terms. Talk it over with your business advisor or mentor if you have one. Once you are certain that from a financial perspective, growing your team is the way to go, contact ACAS for further guidance.